(19)
(11)EP 3 116 770 B1

(12)EUROPEAN PATENT SPECIFICATION

(45)Mention of the grant of the patent:
06.05.2020 Bulletin 2020/19

(21)Application number: 15761283.9

(22)Date of filing:  10.03.2015
(51)Int. Cl.: 
B62D 55/14  (2006.01)
B62D 55/084  (2006.01)
(86)International application number:
PCT/US2015/019648
(87)International publication number:
WO 2015/138415 (17.09.2015 Gazette  2015/37)

(54)

VEHICLE TRACK ASSEMBLY HAVING TAPERED WHEELS

FAHRZEUGRAUPENANORDNUNG MIT KONISCHEN RÄDERN

ENSEMBLE CHENILLE DE VÉHICULE À ROUES CONIQUES


(84)Designated Contracting States:
AL AT BE BG CH CY CZ DE DK EE ES FI FR GB GR HR HU IE IS IT LI LT LU LV MC MK MT NL NO PL PT RO RS SE SI SK SM TR

(30)Priority: 13.03.2014 US 201414208834

(43)Date of publication of application:
18.01.2017 Bulletin 2017/03

(73)Proprietor: Ati, Inc.
Mt. Vernon, Indiana 47620 (US)

(72)Inventors:
  • RESHAD, Jamsheed
    Newburgh, IN 47630 (US)
  • TIEDE, Duane
    Naperville, IL 60540 (US)
  • JUNCKER, Kenneth, J.
    Mt. Vernon, IN 47620 (US)

(74)Representative: Caspary, Karsten et al
Kroher-Strobel Rechts- und Patentanwälte PartmbB Bavariaring 20
80336 München
80336 München (DE)


(56)References cited: : 
JP-A- H06 298 134
US-A- 2 809 071
US-A- 5 005 922
US-B2- 6 904 986
JP-U- S6 050 087
US-A- 3 606 497
US-A1- 2009 178 863
US-B2- 8 083 297
  
      
    Note: Within nine months from the publication of the mention of the grant of the European patent, any person may give notice to the European Patent Office of opposition to the European patent granted. Notice of opposition shall be filed in a written reasoned statement. It shall not be deemed to have been filed until the opposition fee has been paid. (Art. 99(1) European Patent Convention).


    Description

    CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATION



    [0001] This application claims the benefit of U.S. Patent Application No. 14/208,834 filed March 13, 2014.

    FIELD



    [0002] The field relates generally to track assemblies for tracked vehicles and, more particularly, to track assemblies for use on crowned roads. In such track assemblies, improved wheel structure spreads the track load distribution toward the center of a track assembly and thereby reduces wear at the outer edges of the track and the wheels.

    BACKGROUND



    [0003] Agricultural vehicles such as tractors, combines and the like are commonly used in agricultural fields for a variety of jobs, and construction vehicles and other large work vehicles are used for many different jobs on a variety of ground surfaces. Typically, these vehicles have large wheels with tires on which the vehicles are supported on the ground. However, for improved traction, vehicle-track module systems or, more broadly, track assemblies are used in place of wheels with tires, and such track modules and track assemblies provide a much larger ground-surface engagement area that spreads vehicle weight and tends to prevent vehicles from becoming bogged down in mud or other soft ground surfaces.

    [0004] Track assemblies for a vehicle typically include a frame mounted with respect to the vehicle and a plurality of wheels in contact with a continuous flexible track which extends about the plurality of wheels. More specifically, a track module, which is a type of track assembly, for use in modular tracked vehicles typically has a upper drive wheel connectable with respect to a vehicle axle for rotation therewith, a plurality of idler and bogie wheels, and an endless flexible rubber track with a main inner surface and spaced track lugs projecting inwardly therefrom, the track extending around the wheels and being driven by its engagement with the drive wheel. Such drive wheels may be large and may, of course, have circumferentially-spaced drive members engageable with the track lugs.

    [0005] For example JP S60 50087 A discloses a track assembly for a work vehicle, at least one boogie wheel of which having tapered portions providing contact to the flexible track when the flexible track is inclined to a predetermined degree with respect to the axis of the boogie wheel.

    [0006] Use places enormous strain on the mechanics of the track assembly, particularly with respect to the wheels, the flexible track around the wheels, and the lugs on the track. This wear-and-tear on the track is especially pronounced in circumstances where a vehicle with a track assembly is driven on a surface that is not substantially level, a scenario often encountered in both the construction and agricultural fields of use. On crowned roads, for example, the bulk of the weight of the vehicle is not evenly distributed across the entire width of the track. Rather, depending upon the type of crowned road, the vehicle load may be primarily distributed toward the outer edges of the track, which, of course, is not desirable because this will cause premature track wear shortening the useful life of the track.

    [0007] The term "crowned" describes the cross-sectional shape of a road surface and the term "cross slope" describes the slope of a road surface perpendicular to the centerline of the road. There are several types of crowned roads. For example, a road may have a centerline crown in which case the road slopes down and away on both sides from a road surface center point. A normal crowned road has a small degree of cross slope that would ordinarily be imperceptible to a person driving a vehicle thereon. Crowned roads may, however, have a more significant degree of cross slope. Such a road may look rounded in the middle. In a rounded crowned road, the center of the road may be flat, in which case the road slopes down and away from the center flat portion of the road on both sides. Older rural roads, whether paved or unpaved, typically include some form of a centerline crown. In some instances however, especially seen in narrower roads, a crowned road may slope primarily more toward one side of a road surface than the other. For example, a road may slope toward a down-slope side of a road toward a road shoulder or, conversely, a road may slope down and toward an up-slope side of a road toward a road shoulder.

    [0008] Track modules and assemblies seen in the prior art are not especially suited for use on crowned roads having variable degrees of cross slope because the wheels themselves on such known vehicle track modules are not generally compliant and, thus, do not accommodate for the slope in the road. Some modules and assemblies may attempt to compensate surface cross slope by including roll axis structure for the wheel shafts. A roll axis allows the wheels to move up and down around an axis substantially parallel to the direction of vehicle motion in response to irregularities in a ground surface. Including a roll degree-of-freedom for a wheel axle adds additional complexity and cost to the structure of the vehicle track module. It also adds additional structure subject to wear and failure and requiring the need for regular maintenance, repair and replacement.

    [0009] A solution to the problems described above which still retains the advantages of track-assembly technology and which accommodates variability in road-surface cross slope and reduces uneven track wear would be an important advance in the art.

    SUMMARY



    [0010] Such solution is provided by the subject-matter of claim 1. Preferred embodiments are subject of the dependent claims.

    [0011] An improvement in a vehicle track module of the type including a frame where the module is mountable on a rotatable axle of a vehicle is described herein. The vehicle track module has a drive wheel which is rotatably mounted to the frame, leading and trailing idler wheels rotatably mounted to the frame, and at least one bogie wheel positioned between the leading and trailing idler wheels and in contact with a continuous flexible track which extends about the drive wheel, the idler wheels, and the at least one bogie wheel. The at least one bogie wheel is a tapered wheel, such that it has a circumferential surface that is larger in diameter toward one side than the other side and the taper being at an angle of from about one and a half to about two and a half degrees from a line perpendicular to a center plane that is parallel to the drive wheel. Thereby, the load is spread over the width of the track under the bogie wheel. The characteristics of the improved vehicle track module overcome the problems and shortcomings described above.

    [0012] In describing the improved vehicle track module, the term "taper" used in various forms refers to a characteristic of at least one wheel of the track module which has a circumferential surface that is thicker toward one side than the other side. The term "tire" as used throughout does not impose any material limitation for the tapered tire, but rather, the tapered tire can be made of a variety of suitable materials including, for example, steel, aluminum, rubber, polyurethane, rubber-like materials, nylon, and other material combinations. The term "elastomeric" refers to any natural or synthetic substance having elasticity, for example, rubber, nylon, polypropylene, polyethylene, polyamide, polyester, polycarbonate and polysulphone and other material combinations with appropriate qualities would be acceptable. It should also be noted that the term "flexible track" as used herein means tracks made of any material capable of flexing, including but not limited to natural rubber, synthetic rubber, or any rubber-like material. The term "cylindrical wheel" as used herein refers to a round structure the circumferential surface of which is cylindrical, but which may include a slight mold release draft. The internal configurations of such wheels may include many different types of wheel structures.

    [0013] In one aspect of the improved vehicle track module, the module includes a module center plane that is parallel to the drive wheel and the bogie wheel tapered tire is thicker toward the center plane. In another embodiment, only a portion of the elastomeric tire circumferential surface is tapered. In a further embodiment, the bogie wheel tapered elastomeric tire is a solid elastomeric tire.

    [0014] In some preferred embodiments, the vehicle track module includes at least two bogie wheels, each being a cylindrical wheel with a tapered elastomeric tire therearound. The track module may include a module center plane that is parallel to the drive wheel and the bogie wheel tapered elastomeric tires are thicker toward the center plane. In another embodiment, only a portion of the circumferential surface of the bogie wheel elastomeric tires is tapered. In still a further embodiment, the bogie wheels each may include a solid elastomeric tapered tire.

    [0015] In other preferred embodiments, each of the leading and trailing idler wheels may also be a cylindrical wheel with a tapered elastomeric tire therearound. The module may include a module center plane that is parallel to the drive wheel and the leading and trailing idler wheel tapered elastomeric tires are thicker toward the center plane. In another embodiment, only a portion of the circumferential surface of the leading and trailing idler wheel elastomeric tires is tapered. In still a further embodiment, the leading and trailing idler wheels may include a solid elastomeric tapered tire.

    [0016] In some embodiments, the vehicle track module further includes a high-idler wheel that is a cylindrical wheel with an elastomeric tire therearound. In a preferred embodiment, the high-idler wheel is a cylindrical wheel with a tapered elastomeric tire therearound. In such embodiment, the track module may include a module center plane parallel to the drive wheel and the high-idler wheel tapered tire is thicker toward the center plane. In another embodiment, only a portion of the circumferential surface of the high-idler wheel tire is tapered. In still a further embodiment, the high-idler wheel may include a solid elastomeric tapered tire.

    [0017] In still other embodiments, the vehicle track module includes at least one bogie wheel and leading and trailing idler wheels where each such wheel is a cylindrical wheel with a tapered elastomeric tire therearound. And, in further preferred embodiments, the improved vehicle track module includes leading and trailing idler wheels, two bogie wheels, each of which wheels being a cylindrical wheel with a tapered elastomeric tire therearound. And, in yet other highly-preferred embodiments, the improved vehicle track module includes leading and trailing idler wheels, two bogie wheels, and a high-idler wheel, where each of the wheels is a cylindrical wheel with a tapered elastomeric tire therearound.

    [0018] Yet another aspect of the improved vehicle track module of the type including a frame where the module is mountable on a rotatable axle of a vehicle is described herein. The vehicle track module has a drive wheel which is rotatably mounted to the frame, leading and trailing idler wheels rotatably mounted to the frame, and at least one bogie wheel positioned between the leading and trailing idler wheels and in contact with a continuous flexible track which extends about the drive wheel, the idler wheels, and the at least one bogie wheel. In an embodiment, the at least one bogie wheel is a tapered wheel.

    [0019] In another preferred embodiment, a track assembly for a vehicle is disclosed. The assembly includes a frame for mounting the assembly with respect to the vehicle. The assembly further includes a plurality of wheels that are in contact with a continuous flexible track which extends about the plurality of wheels and at least one of the plurality of wheels is a cylindrical wheel which includes a tapered elastomeric tire therearound. Such a track assembly may be part of a fully-integrated tracked vehicle.

    [0020] In an embodiment, the track assembly may include an assembly center plane that is parallel to the plurality of wheels and the tapered tire may be thicker toward the assembly center plane. The tapered elastomeric tire of the track assembly may be a solid elastomeric tire.

    [0021] In another embodiment, more than one of the plurality of wheels in the track assembly may have a tapered elastomeric tire therearound. In such embodiment, the track assembly may include an assembly center plane that is parallel to the plurality of wheels and the tapered tires may be thicker toward the assembly center plane. In still a further embodiment, a portion of the tapered tire circumferential surface is tapered. In such embodiment, more than one of the plurality of wheels may have a tapered elastomeric tire therearound. Yet in other embodiments, the track assembly may include an assembly center plane that is parallel to the plurality of wheels and the tapered tire may be thicker toward the assembly center plane.

    BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS



    [0022] Exemplary improved vehicle track module including at least one bogie wheel which is a cylindrical wheel with a tapered elastomeric tire therearound may be understood by reference to the following description taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawings, in which like reference numbers identify like elements throughout the different views. The drawings are not necessarily to scale, emphasis instead being placed upon illustrating the principles of the disclosure.

    FIGURE 1 is a perspective view of an exemplary vehicle track assembly in accordance with the present invention.

    FIGURE 2 is a cross-section of a preferred vehicle track module leading idler wheel wherein the elastomeric tire is fully tapered.

    FIGURE 3 is a perspective view of an exemplary vehicle track module wheel showing an elastomeric tire tapered portion defined at a mold parting line in the tire.

    FIGURE 4 is a cross-section of the exemplary vehicle track module wheel of FIGURE 3 taken along section 4-4 showing a tapered portion of the elastomeric tire circumferential surface defined by a mold parting line in the tire.

    FIGURE 5 is a highly-schematic diagram showing a crowned road and a track module non-tapered wheel thereon, where substantially the entire load of the track is at the intersection of the crowned road and the lower left-most corner of the track.


    DETAILED DESCRIPTION



    [0023] Prior track apparatus for vehicles are disclosed in U.S. Pat. Nos. RE36,284 (Kelderman), 5,829,848 (Kelderman), 6,536,854 (Kahle et al.), 6,543,861 (Kahle et al.), 6,543,862 (Kahle et al.) and 6,557,953 (Kahle et al.), assigned to the assignee of the present invention. The invention is an improvement in the track modules and assemblies of the type referred to in such patents, has application in positive drive systems, friction drive systems, gliding systems (in which power is not transferred to the track from one of the wheels engaging the track) and combination systems.

    [0024] Referring first to FIGURE 1, an exemplary vehicle track module 10 having a frame 20 is illustrated. Track module 10 is more broadly referred to herein as a track assembly 10. Where a track module may be removably and replaceably used in modular track vehicles, track assemblies may be part of a fully-integrated track vehicle where the assembly is more rigidly attached thereto.

    [0025] As shown in FIGURE 1, track module 10 is mountable on a rotatable axle (not shown) of an agricultural or construction (or other earth-moving) vehicle (not shown) and has a drive wheel 22 that is rotatably mounted to frame 20. Other types of vehicles, such as trucks, automobiles and the like are considered as being within the scope of the present invention.

    [0026] FIGURES 1-4 illustrate various embodiments of the improved track wheel module 10. As shown in FIGURE 1, track module 10 may include a continuous flexible track 24 which extends about a plurality of aligned wheels, which may include, for example, drive wheel 22, leading and trailer idler wheels 26, 28 and at least one bogie wheel 30 which is a tapered wheel. Wheel 32 may be a cylindrical wheel including a tapered elastomeric tire 34 therearound. Wheel 32 may be a metal wheel, for example, or be made of any other suitable material. As is apparent, flexible track 24 is in the form of a continuous loop. Drive wheel 22 is mountable to an axle of a vehicle for rotational movement therewith in order to drive flexible track 22, and thus the vehicle.

    [0027] The track module is one type of a track assembly. In all track assemblies having continuous flexible tracks, there is a plurality of wheels in contact with such tracks and the tracks extend about the plurality of wheels, and at least one of the wheels is a cylindrical wheel which includes a tapered elastomeric tire. While a track module may be used to replace existing modules on existing modular-type track vehicles, a track assembly may be part of a fully-integrated track vehicle. In the case of both the modules and track assemblies integrated with vehicles, at least one of the plurality of wheels is a cylindrical wheel which includes a tapered elastomeric tire therearound as described herein.

    [0028] Still referring to FIGURE 1, flexible track 24 includes an outer ground-engaging surface 36 and an inner wheel-engaging surface 38 having inwardly-projecting wheel-engaging lugs 40, which are circumferentially spaced about inner surface 38 of track 24. Drive wheel 22 is engaged with inner surface 38 of continuous flexible track 24, including lugs 40 thereon. FIGURE 1 shows that the outer surface of drive wheel 22 may include circumferentially spaced drive members 42 (such as teeth, drive or sprocket pins or the like) which project radially therefrom. Engagement of lugs 40 with lug-engagement surfaces of drive wheel 22 tends to minimize shearing forces on lugs 40 and the possible turning and twisting of such lugs.

    [0029] Flexible track 24 is positioned over drive wheel 22 such that lugs 40 projecting from inner surface 38 of track 24 are received between corresponding pairs of drive members 42 projecting from the outer surface of drive wheel 22. Leading and trailing idler wheels 26, 28 are engaged with track 24 and lugs 40 projecting from inner wheel-engaging surface 38 of track 24. The outer surfaces of idler wheels 26, 28 engage inner surface 38 of flexible track 24, including lugs 40. At least one bogie wheel 30 rides over track 24. As shown in FIGURE 1, in addition to bogie wheel 30, track module 10 may also include a second bogie wheel 44 and a high-idler wheel 46. High-idler wheel 46 is useful in circumstances where the vehicle must navigate obstructions and other surface irregularities. Track module 10 including high-idler wheel 46 has a high-approach angle which allows the track module to climb over most obstacles, as well as to keep endless track 24 tension consistent, thereby extending track 24 life. If track 24 tension is more consistent, this translates into a more consistent load everywhere across track 24, which means less wear on idler wheels 26, 28. Where high-idler wheel 46 is included in a track module, ground surface debris is pulled under the track keeping the module and machine on top which further improves floatation and minimizes surface damage. The present improvement in vehicle track module is applicable to, of course, standard track modules which do not include high-idler wheel 46 and which instead have a flat track footprint.

    [0030] Referring still to FIGURE 1, in an embodiment, each of idler wheels 26, 28, bogie wheels 30, 44, and high-idler wheel 46 of vehicle track module 10 is a tapered wheel. Such tapered wheels may consist of metal, rubber or rubber-like materials, or any other suitable material, and combinations thereof. Such wheels may include a cylindrical wheel 32 with a tapered elastomeric tire therearound 34. Cylindrical wheel 32 may be a metal wheel, for example, or it may be made of any other suitable materials. Alternatively, improved vehicle track module 10 may include idler wheels 26, 28, and bogie wheels 30, 44 where only bogie wheels 30, 44 are tapered, including by having a tapered elastomeric tire 34 therearound. It is also possible that in addition to one or more of the bogie wheels being tapered, leading and trailing idler wheels 26 and 28 may also be tapered, including by having a tapered elastomeric tire 34 therearound. A still further possibility, as illustrated in FIGURE 1, is that each of one or more bogie wheels, 30 and 44, leading and trailing idler wheels, 26 and 28, and high-idler wheel 46 is tapered, including by having a tapered elastomeric tire 34 therearound. It can be seen from the foregoing description that any number or all of the plurality of aligned wheels of improved track module 10 can be tapered, including by having a tapered elastomeric tire 34 therearound.

    [0031] In many track modules, bogie wheels and idler wheels are paired with another similar wheel on the same axis, and often each pair of wheels is on the same axle. Only one side of track module 10 is shown in FIGURE 1, and each wheel shown (26, 28, 30, 44 and 46) is paired with a similar wheel on the other side of track module 10. In FIGURE 1, each of these ten wheels is a tapered wheel as described above.

    [0032] In a highly-preferred embodiment, as seen in FIGURE 2, track module 10 includes a module center plane 48 that is parallel to drive wheel 22 and the at least one bogie wheel 30 is thicker toward center plane 48. (Center plane 48 is a plane perpendicular to the plane of the drawing and which intersects the dotted line indicated with reference number 48. More broadly, center plane 48 is also referred to as assembly center plane 48.) In embodiments where leading and trailing idler wheels 26, 28 are also tapered, such wheels are thicker toward center plane 48. And, where high-idler wheel 46 is also a tapered wheel, such wheel is thicker toward center plane 48. The cross slope or angle of the taper in the wheels of vehicle track module 10 can be adjusted as needed to optimize the distribution of the vehicle load across the track and to accommodate the type of road conditions the vehicle is expected to encounter.

    [0033] FIGURE 2 shows an exemplary leading idler wheel 26 illustrating the taper described above. It can be seen that idler wheel 26 has a cylindrical wheel 50 with a tapered elastomeric tire 52 therearound. Module center plane 48 is parallel to drive wheel 22 and idler tire 52 is thicker toward center plane 48. Tapered idler wheel 26 shown in FIGURE 2 illustrates generally an example of the type of taper which may be included in any one of the wheels of track module 10. Also shown in FIGURE 2, idler wheel 26 has a wheel axle 54 and a bearing assembly 56. In FIGURE 2, a portion 52t of the elastomeric tire 52 of idler wheel 26 is tapered, but it should be noted that the entire tire may be tapered. The boundary between tapered portion 52t and a non-tapered portion 52n is indicated by a mold parting line 68 (two arrows top and bottom to indicate the line). It should be understood that while non-tapered portion 52n is not tapered, it may not be a perfect cylinder depending on how it is manufactured. For example, if molded will include a slight mold release draft.

    [0034] FIGURE 3 is a generic exemplary vehicle track module wheel 58 having a cylindrical wheel 60 and a tapered elastomeric tire 62 therearound. Tire 62 includes a tapered portion 62t and a non-tapered portion 62n, tapered and non-tapered portions 62t and 62n being defined at a mold parting line 68 in tire 62. As with non-tapered portion 52n, it should be understood that while non-tapered portion 62n is not tapered, it may not be a perfect cylinder depending upon how it is manufactured. If, for example, it is molded then non-tapered portion 62n may include a slight mold release draft. As best shown in FIGURES 1 and 3, in embodiments, leading and trailing idler wheels 26 and 28, bogie wheels 30 and 44, and high-idler wheel 46 each include such a mold parting line 68 which is a product of the molds used in the manufacturing process and may not actually be visible on the tires. Tapered and non-tapered portions 62t and 62n can be defined in a tire in any suitable manner, and the transition from non-tapered portion 62n to tapered portion 62t need not be demarcated with such a mold parting line. In FIGURE 3, approximately half of tire 62 is tapered, though the taper may be complete, as noted, or it could be something greater or less than half.

    [0035] The degree of taper in any of the wheels is can be adjusted to optimize vehicle use over various types of ground surfaces. The degree of taper between non-tapered tire portion 62n and tapered tire portion 62t is illustrated in FIGURE 4 as an angle of taper 70. For example, where a vehicle travels over a typical paved crowned road, the taper may be approximately one and a half degrees to about approximately two and a half degrees. FIGURE 4 is a cross-section of the wheel of FIGURE 3 along section line 4-4. FIGURE 4 shows the cylindrical wheel 60 and tapered elastomeric tire 62 therearound. In FIGURE 4, it can be seen that tire 62 tapers, that is, it is more narrow, from about the midpoint of tire 62 away from center plane 48 and is thicker from about the midpoint of tire 62 toward center plane 48.

    [0036] Referring next to FIGURE 5, a highly-schematic diagram showing a crowned road 74 and a track module non-tapered wheel 90 is shown. Wheel 90 includes a cylindrical wheel 76 and a non-tapered elastomeric tire 78 therearound engaging the track 80. It can be seen here that substantially the entire load of the track is located at the intersection 82 of the crowned road 74 and the lower left-most corner of track 80. In contrast, referring to FIGURE 2 which illustrates leading idler wheel 26 having tapered elastomeric tire 52, an intersection 82 between track 24 and the ground can also be seen. A non-tapered tire on a crowned road increases the pressure between the outside of the tire and the ground. An improved vehicle track module including at least one wheel of the type illustrated in FIGURES 1-4 having a taper avoids this undesirable situation by spreading the load over the width of the track under the tire and the ground thereunder, thus preventing a track module from running on its outer edges. When the wheel load is spread over a wider area toward the center of the track, wear on the edges of the wheels and the track is reduced, and the useful life of the wheels and the track is increased. Moreover, by utilizing a tapered wheel of the types described and shown herein, additional roll-axis structure becomes obsolete thus eliminating additional costs associated therewith, including costs related to the manufacture, repair and replacement of such unnecessary structure.

    [0037] One skilled in the art will recognize, however, that the disclosure may be practiced without one or more of the specific details, or with other components, materials, and the like. In other instances, well-known structures, materials, or operations are not shown or described in detail to avoid obscuring aspects of the disclosure.

    [0038] Reference throughout this specification to "the embodiment", "this embodiment", "one embodiment", "an embodiment", "a preferred embodiment", "another preferred embodiment", "an exemplary embodiment", "example", or similar language means that a particular feature, structure, or characteristic described in connection with the embodiment is included in at least one embodiment. Thus, appearances of the phrases "in the embodiment", "in this embodiment", "in one embodiment", "in an embodiment", "in a preferred embodiment", "in another preferred embodiment", "in an exemplary embodiment", "in the exemplary embodiment", "in an example", "in the example" and similar language throughout this specification may, but do not necessarily, all refer to the same embodiment.

    [0039] Furthermore, the described features, advantages, and characteristics of the disclosure may be combined in any suitable manner in one or more embodiments. One skilled in the relevant art will recognize that the disclosure may be practiced without one or more of the specific features or advantages of a particular embodiment. In other instances, additional features and advantages may be recognized in certain embodiments that may not be present in all embodiments.

    [0040] While the present disclosure has been described in connection with certain exemplary or specific embodiments, it should be understood that the disclosure is not limited to the disclosed embodiments, but, on the contrary, is intended to cover various modifications, alternatives, modifications and equivalent arrangements as will be apparent to those skilled in the art. Any such changes, modifications, alternatives, modifications, equivalents and the like may be made without departing from the scope of the invention as defined by the appended claims.


    Claims

    1. A vehicle track module (10) mountable on a rotatable axle of a vehicle, the track module having a frame (20), a drive wheel (22) rotatably mounted to the frame (20), leading and trailing idler wheels (26, 28) rotatably mounted to the frame (20), and at least one bogie wheel (30, 44) positioned between the leading and trailing idler wheels (26, 28) and in contact with a continuous flexible track (24) extending about the drive wheel (22), idler wheels (26, 28) and the at least one bogie wheel (30, 44), wherein the at least one bogie wheel (30, 44) is a tapered wheel, the tapering thereof being such that the bogie wheel (30, 44) has a circumferential surface that is larger in diameter toward one side than the other side;
    characterized in that
    the taper of the at least one bogie wheel (30, 44) is at an angle of from about one and a half to about two and a half degrees from a line perpendicular to a center plane (48) that is parallel to the drive wheel (22), thereby spreading the load over the width of the track (24) under the bogie wheel (30, 44).
     
    2. The track module (10) of claim 1 wherein the tapered bogie wheel (30, 44) is a cylindrical wheel (32) with a tapered elastomeric tire (34) therearound.
     
    3. The track module (10) of claim 2 wherein the tapered elastomeric tire (34) is larger in diameter toward the center plane (48).
     
    4. The track module (10) of claim 2 wherein the tapered elastomeric tire (34) is a solid elastomeric tire.
     
    5. The track module (10) of claim 2 wherein a portion of the elastomeric tire (34) circumferential surface is tapered.
     
    6. The track module (10) of claim 2 further including two bogie wheels (30, 44) each of which is a cylindrical wheel (32) with a tapered elastomeric tire (34) therearound.
     
    7. The track module (10) of claim 6 further including a module center plane (48) parallel to the drive wheel (22) and wherein each of the tapered elastomeric tires (34) is larger in diameter toward the center plane (48).
     
    8. The track module (10) of claim 7 wherein each of the tapered elastomeric tires (34) is a solid elastomeric tire.
     
    9. The track module (10) of claim 6 wherein a portion of the circumferential surface of each of the elastomeric tires (34) is tapered.
     
    10. The track module (10) of claim 2 wherein the leading and trailing idler wheels (26, 28) are each tapered, each including a cylindrical wheel (32) with a tapered elastomeric tire (34) therearound.
     
    11. The track module (10) of claim 10 wherein the tapered elastomeric tires (34) are larger in diameter toward the center plane (48).
     
    12. The track module (10) of claim 10 wherein the tapered elastomeric tires of the leading and trailing idler wheels (26, 28) are solid elastomeric tires.
     
    13. The track module (10) of claim 10 further including a tapered high-idler wheel (46), the high-idler wheel (46) including a cylindrical wheel (32) with a tapered elastomeric (34) tire therearound.
     
    14. The track module (10) of claim 13 wherein the tapered elastomeric tire (34) of the high-idler wheel is a solid elastomeric tire.
     
    15. The track module (10) of claim 2 wherein more than one of the plurality of wheels has a tapered elastomeric tire therearound.
     


    Ansprüche

    1. Fahrzeug-Gleiskettenmodul (10), das auf einer drehbaren Achse eines Fahrzeugs anbringbar ist, wobei das Gleiskettenmodul einen Rahmen (20), ein Antriebsrad (22), das drehbar an dem Rahmen (20) angebracht ist, vordere und hintere Laufräder (26, 28), die drehbar an dem Rahmen (20) angebracht sind, und mindestens ein Zwischenrad (30, 44) aufweist, die zwischen den vorderen und hinteren Laufrädern (26, 28) angeordnet und in Kontakt mit einer kontinuierlichen, flexiblen Gleiskette (24) sind, die sich um das Antriebsrad (22), die Laufräder (26, 28) und das mindestens eine Laufrad (30, 44) erstreckt, wobei das mindestens eine Zwischenrad (30, 44) ein konisches Rad ist, dessen konische Form derart ausgebildet ist, dass das Zwischenrad (30, 44) eine Umfangsoberfläche aufweist, die im Durchmesser zur einen Seite hin größer ist als zu der anderen Seite;
    dadurch gekennzeichnet, dass
    die Verjüngung des mindestens einen Zwischenrads (30, 44) in einem Winkel von etwa eineinhalb bis etwa zweieinhalb Grad von einer Linie ausgebildet ist, die senkrecht zu einer Mittelebene (48) ist, die parallel zu dem Antriebsrad (22) ist, wodurch die Last über die Breite der Gleiskette (24) unter dem Zwischenrad (30, 44) verteilt wird.
     
    2. Gleiskettenmodul (10) nach Anspruch 1, wobei das konische Zwischenrad (30, 44) ein zylinderförmiges Rad (32) mit einem sich verjüngenden Elastomerreifen (34) darum herum ist.
     
    3. Gleiskettenmodul (10) nach Anspruch 2, wobei der sich verjüngende Elastomerreifen (34) in seinem Durchmesser zu der Mittelebene (48) hin größer ist.
     
    4. Gleiskettenmodul (10) nach Anspruch 2, wobei der sich verjüngende Elastomerreifen (34) ein fester Elastomerreifen ist.
     
    5. Gleiskettenmodul (10) nach Anspruch 2, wobei ein Abschnitt der Umfangsoberfläche des Elastomerreifens (34) verjüngt ist.
     
    6. Gleiskettenmodul (10) nach Anspruch 2, das des Weiteren zwei Zwischenräder (30, 44) umfasst, von denen jedes ein zylinderförmiges Rad (32) mit einem sich verjüngenden Elastomerreifen (34) darum herum ist.
     
    7. Gleiskettenmodul (10) nach Anspruch 6, das des Weiteren eine Modulmittelebene (48) parallel zu dem Antriebsrad (22) aufweist und wobei jeder der sich verjüngenden Elastomerreifen (34) im Durchmesser zu der Mittelebene (48) hin größer ist.
     
    8. Gleiskettenmodul (10) nach Anspruch 7, wobei jeder der sich verjüngenden Elastomerreifen (34) ein fester Elastomerreifen ist.
     
    9. Gleiskettenmodul (10) nach Anspruch 6, wobei ein Abschnitt der Umfangsoberfläche jedes der Elastomerreifen (34) verjüngt ist.
     
    10. Gleiskettenmodul (10) nach Anspruch 2, wobei die vorderen und hinteren Laufräder (26, 28) jeweils verjüngt sind, wobei jedes ein zylinderförmiges Rad (32) mit einem sich verjüngenden Elastomerreifen (34) darum herum umfasst.
     
    11. Gleiskettenmodul (10) nach Anspruch 10, wobei die sich verjüngenden Elastomerreifen (34) zu der Mittelebene (48) hin im Durchmesser größer sind.
     
    12. Gleiskettenmodul (10) nach Anspruch 10, wobei die sich verjüngenden Elastomerreifen der vorderen und hinteren Laufräder (26, 28) feste Elastomerreifen sind.
     
    13. Gleiskettenmodul (10) nach Anspruch 10, das des Weiteren ein konisches hochstehendes Laufrad (46) umfasst, wobei das hochstehende Laufrad (46) ein zylinderförmiges Rad (32) mit einem sich verjüngenden Elastomerreifen (34) darum herum aufweist.
     
    14. Gleiskettenmodul (10) nach Anspruch 13, wobei der sich verjüngende Elastomerreifen (34) des hochstehenden Laufrads ein fester Elastomerreifen ist.
     
    15. Gleiskettenmodul (10) nach Anspruch 2, wobei mehr als eines der Mehrzahl von Rädern einen sich verjüngenden Elastomerreifen darum herum aufweist.
     


    Revendications

    1. Module de chenille de véhicule (10) montable sur un essieu rotatif d'un véhicule, le module de chenille ayant un châssis (20), une roue motrice (22) montée de manière à pouvoir tourner sur le châssis (20), des roues folles avant et arrière (26, 28) montées de manière à pouvoir tourner sur le châssis (20), et au moins une roue de bogie (30, 44) positionnée entre les roues folles avant et arrière (26, 28) et en contact avec une chenille flexible continue (24) s'étendant autour de la roue motrice (22), des roues folles (26, 28) et de l'au moins une roue de bogie (30, 44), dans lequel l'au moins une roue de bogie (30, 44) est une roue conique, dont l'effilement est tel que la roue de bogie (30, 44) a une surface circonférentielle dont le diamètre vers un côté est supérieur à celui vers l'autre côté,
    caractérisé en ce que
    l'effilement de l'au moins une roue de bogie (30, 44) est à un angle d'environ un et demi à environ deux et demi degrés par rapport à une ligne perpendiculaire à un plan central (48) qui est parallèle à la roue motrice (22), en répartissant de ce fait la charge sur la largeur de la chenille (24) sous la roue de bogie (30, 44).
     
    2. Module de chenille (10) selon la revendication 1, dans lequel la roue de bogie (30, 44) conique est une roue cylindrique (32) avec un pneumatique élastomère (34) conique autour de celle-ci.
     
    3. Module de chenille (10) selon la revendication 2, dans lequel le pneumatique élastomère (34) conique a un diamètre plus grand vers le plan central (48).
     
    4. Module de chenille (10) selon la revendication 2, dans lequel le pneumatique élastomère (34) conique est un pneumatique élastomère plein.
     
    5. Module de chenille (10) selon la revendication 2, dans lequel une portion de la surface circonférentielle du pneumatique élastomère (34) est conique.
     
    6. Module de chenille (10) selon la revendication 2, incluant en outre deux roues de bogie (30, 44), chacune d'elles étant une roue cylindrique (32) avec un pneumatique élastomère (34) conique autour de celle-ci.
     
    7. Module de chenille (10) selon la revendication 6, incluant en outre un plan central de module (48) parallèle à la roue motrice (22) et dans lequel chacun des pneumatiques élastomères (34) coniques a un diamètre plus grand vers le plan central (48).
     
    8. Module de chenille (10) selon la revendication 7, dans lequel chacun des pneumatiques élastomères (34) coniques est un pneumatique élastomère plein.
     
    9. Module de chenille (10) selon la revendication 6, dans lequel une portion de la surface circonférentielle de chacun des pneumatiques élastomères (34) est conique.
     
    10. Module de chenille (10) selon la revendication 2, dans lequel les roues folles avant et arrière (26, 28) sont chacune coniques, chacune incluant une roue cylindrique (32) avec un pneumatique élastomère (34) conique autour de celle-ci.
     
    11. Module de chenille (10) selon la revendication 10, dans lequel les pneumatiques élastomères (34) coniques ont un diamètre plus grand vers le plan central (48).
     
    12. Module de chenille (10) selon la revendication 10, dans lequel les pneumatiques élastomères coniques des roues folles avant et arrière (26, 28) sont des pneumatiques élastomères pleins.
     
    13. Module de chenille (10) selon la revendication 10, incluant en outre une roue folle haute (46) conique, la roue folle haute (46) incluant une roue cylindrique (32) avec un pneumatique élastomère (34) conique autour de celle-ci.
     
    14. Module de chenille (10) selon la revendication 13, dans lequel le pneumatique élastomère (34) conique de la roue folle haute est un pneumatique élastomère plein.
     
    15. Module de chenille (10) selon la revendication 2, dans lequel plusieurs roues de la pluralité de roues ont un pneumatique élastomère conique autour de celles-ci.
     




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    REFERENCES CITED IN THE DESCRIPTION



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    Patent documents cited in the description